How to Build a Batten Door
A batten door is a basic wooden door design. Batten doors are built from parallel vertical boards, or battens, that cover the door opening. Horizontal boards, or ledges, nailed to one side of the vertical boards hold them together and provide strength. Batten doors are also sometimes called ledged doors. Batten doors are very sturdy and durable and are often found on barns, sheds and other structures exposed to the weather. Using basic carpentry skills, you can build a batten door yourself.
Buy tongue and groove boarding with beveled edges. The size of the boards can be any size, but the best size is around 1 by 8 inches. Buy regular boarding that is about the same width as the tongue and groove boards but thicker, say 2 by 8 inches.
Measure the height of the doorway and cut the tongue in groove boards to that length. These are your battens. Measure the width of the doorway and assemble the tongue in groove boards together to match that width. The door should not have less than half a board on either side. If you end up with less than half a board on one side, rip the two outer boards lengthwise to be the same width. For example, if the last board is one-quarter of a board width, instead of using only one-quarter of a board width on one side, rip the two outer boards to five-eighths width and use one on each side.
Subtract the depth of the beading on both sides of the doorway, if any, plus 1/4 inch from the width of the doorway. Saw three pieces of regular boarding to this measurement. These are your ledges.
Disassemble all the boarding and prime each board, including the tongues and grooves, with a good quality primer paint. Let the primer dry.
Place the batten piece that will be opposite the hinged side of the door on your workbench. The surface of the batten that will be on the outside of the building should be facing the bench surface.
Place a ledge piece in the middle of the batten and perpendicular to it. The end of the ledge should be the same distance from the outer edge of the batten as the depth of the bead in the doorway.
Screw the ledge to the batten in three or five places, staggering the position of the screws. For example, if you use three screws, they will be in a triangle pattern. The number of screws depends on the width of the ledge. Place the other two ledges a few inches from either end of the batten and screw them into place in the same manner.
Turn the assembly over so that the ledges are on the workbench. Slide the rest of the battens onto the ledges, fitting the tongues and grooves together until you have constructed the whole door. Push them tightly together and square the ends. Screw the rest of the battens onto the ledges using the same pattern that you did for the first one.
Paint the door and let the paint dry. Hang the finished door using three T hinges, one at each ledge.
- If the ledges of your batten door must be on the outside for some reason, bevel the top edges to throw off water.
- Some batten doors have diagonal braces between ledges. If you want this, use the same type of board for the braces as you did for the ledges. The ends should be cut in opposing 45-degree angles and fit tightly against the ledges. The braces should angle from the outer edge of the door toward the hinged side. Screw them to each batten with three or five screws.
Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.
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